Tuesday, November 22, 2011


4. Atomic Fog

Approximately twenty years before the Hanford nuclear reactor (read plutonium factory) cranked up in Washington state on land torn loose from the Yakamas, Pessoa's transmuted element Alvaro de Campos wrote about the "atomic fog" of things, employing "atomic" in its Aristotelian sense. Since fog is frequently hovering over the river in Lisbon, contributing to its hallucinatory image, it is unsurpising that Pessoa chose it to represent obfuscation.

The current condition of atomic fog is clearly a subelement on the periodic table of what Robert McNamara called The Fog of War, and is being spread around to fertilize the notion that by making war on Iran, that the bankrupt West will pull itself out of the abyss through which it has been plummeting in free fall since making war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and the Islamic world's version of the Easter Bunny, the latest victim of the neo-Sodom of Deliverance Country, Muoamar Gadafi. Homepathy applied to the economic crisis--aka, cure it with more of the same sickness.

Back in 1966, the author of Deliverance, James Dickey, still known then solely as a boisterously not-half-bad poet poised to inherit the overcoat of Robert Lowell, gave a reading of his poems in Meany Hall, on the campus of the University of Washington. All I remember from that evening 45 years later is the recommendation he made: "If you're bored with your life, risk it."

It strikes a chord, as at this moment the West seems determined to risk the lives of every being on the planet--regardless of whether the being in question is bored or not--in its desperate search for the philosopher's stone which can turn deficits into healthy capital--and which is by all accounts hidden somewhere among the billions of grains of sand in the deserts of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Alvaro de Campos, based on the pessimistic poems Pessoa left stuffed in a trunk when he died, would probably have given this clear advice to the leaders (sic) of the West:

"You want to kill yourself? Why not go ahead and kill yourself?
What good to you is the screen of successive external images
that we call the world?
The cinematography of the hours represented
by actors of predetermined conventions and poses,
the polychrome circus of our endless dynamism?"

Would that the suspects in questions could even understand what he wrote.

The atomic fog is only the current smokescreen they have thrown up to convince us (or someone) that Iran, from night to morning, will produce of flotilla of nuclear weapons pirouetting on the noses of missiles and poised to b last us out of our lethargic lemmingness into a black hole waiting several galaxies away from us--a scenario which can only be circumvented by bombing the bejeezuz out of its nuclear development facilities and taking possession of its production of hydrocarbons.

Welcome, therefore, to the atomic fog of Deliverance Country, brought to you by the duelling banjos of Netanyahu and Oboma; meanwhile Pessoa, as Alvaro de Campos, brings to a close "Lisbon Revisited (1923):

"This night in which I do not sleep, serenity surrounds me
like a truth to which I am not party,
and outside the light of the moon, like the hope I do not have,
is invisible for me."

(translation by moonraven)


Pessoa, Fernando, Paginas Escogidas. Grupo Editorial Tomo, Mexico, D.F. 2003.

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